After dominating (if I do say so myself...) an hour-long Flywheel class two Saturdays ago, I had a sudden, out-of-control hankering for hibachi chicken and salad with ginger dressing. Since high school, my normal go-to for quick-serve Japanese food has been Yoshi's Grill in Huntersville, but I wasn't exactly feeling the 20+-mile commute post-workout... I started perusing the interwebs for recommendations a little closer to home, but pretty much came up dry. I voiced my concerns to BFTB (read: I whined like a baby about my unsatisfied shrimp sauce craving) and he suggested that we head to center city and try Tin Tin Box & Noodles, a restaurant relatively close to his office uptown.
BFTB told me that this place gets slammed on weekdays, but we were some of the only customers in the restaurant at 2-ish p.m. on Saturday. We snagged some Diet Cokes out of the fridge (I later discovered that they also carry fountain Pepsi products) and placed an order for a ginger salad and two hibachi chicken meals. We walked to the upstairs dining area and had to wait for twelve-ish minutes before our food was ready.
BFTB retrieved our meals (partly because my legs were shot and I couldn't fathom the idea of walking up and down the stairs again) and we dug in. I first tried the ginger salad and was pretty underwhelmed. The "salad" was served in a plastic clamshell container and consisted of dicey iceberg lettuce (mostly the dry, bitter end-pieces) and a few carrot slivers. The dressing was served on the side and was even more disappointing. It tasted more like orange juice than ginger and was oddly sour. My biggest issue with it, however, was that it was so insanely chunky that I couldn't distribute it evenly over the lettuce. I basically had three overloaded-with-dressing bites and was then left with about 95% of the lettuce in its naked, untasty form.
After giving up on the salad, I dug into my hibachi chicken. The chicken was mixed in with mushroom slices and served atop a bed of fried rice (you can sub in steamed white or brown rice for a small upcharge) alongside a mix of broccoli and onions and a little cup of pink-colored shrimp sauce. Pros: the chicken pieces were all big hunks of white meat and the shrimp sauce was sweet and creamy. Cons: pretty much everything else. I was disappointed by the dinky, overcooked veggies and the fact that the chicken was dried out, but the biggest issue was how freaking salty everything was. When I was younger, I had a pet rabbit named Cocoa Krispie. Ms. Krispie had a 4" salt block hooked to the bars of her cage... I would not be shocked if somebody told me that the Tin Tin chefs took that entire salt block and ground it up into my meal. I'm generally a fiend for all things sodium-laden, but the level of saltiness was ridiculous. Without a heavy coat of the thick, sweet shrimp sauce, the food would have been borderline inedible. Even discounting the salt issue, the flavors were generally unimpressive and still left me with an unsatisfied hibachi craving.
All in all, Tin Tin Box & Noodles was a big letdown (I guess there is a silver lining in that it made me drink about a gallon of water that day as a result of my sodium-induced dehydration). I'm still on the lookout for good quick-serve hibachi in Charlotte, so feel free to send recommendations my way! In the meantime, I'll avoid Tin Tin and continue to head north to Yoshi's. For quick-serve Asian food, Tin Tin gets a 4.5/10.